46 languages in Bangladesh!

Last updated: 5 October 2017 From the section 1952 Bhasha Andolon

Although Bangla is the official language of Bangladesh and is spoken by almost everyone in the country, there are approximately 46 languages within Bangladesh itself, of which 42 are indigenous or native languages. All these are still actively used today.

Table: Languages of Bangladesh
LanguageSpoken by (population)
Bengali 110,000,000
Chittagonian 13,000,000
Rangpuri 10,000,000
Sylheti 7,000,000
Burmese 300,000
Bihari 250,000
Rohingya 200,000
Sadri, Oraon 166,000
Santali 157,000
Chakma 150,000
Marma 150,000
Garo 120,000
Tippera 85,000
Bishnupriya 40,000
Kurux 40,000
Rakhine 35,000
Mru 30,000
Usoi 22,400
Tangchangya 21,600
War-Jaintia 16,000
Meitei 15,000
Chin, Bawm 13,500
Assamese 9,000
Hajong 8,000
Sauria Paharia 7,000
Megam 6,870
Koch 6,000
Chak 5,500
A’tong 5,400
Kok Borok 5,000
Pnar 4,000
Mundari 2,500
Pangkhua 2,500
Chin, Asho 2,340
Chin, Khumi 2,090
Koda 1,300
Chin, Haka 1,260
Riang 500
Mizo 250
Chin, Falam Very few speakers
Khasi Very few speakers
Indian Sign Language 7,596,511 deaf people in Bangladesh and 14 deaf institutions

Source: Ethnologue - Languages of Bangladesh

Get involved

We need to make sure that our children develop a habit of reading from a very young age. Each classroom in schools, starting from the Kindergarten to the senior classes should have shelves filled with both old classics and contemporary books. I am not against the 'computer technology', but we also have to make sure that our children do not ignore books because of the computers.

If people in Chittagong, Khulna, Sylhet and other districts are not exposed to the quality and quantity of books like those in Dhaka, then how can we expect these people to create a demand for books? A proper distribution is very much necessary. Not only in Kolkata, but there are thousands of Bangalis living in the United Kingdom, United States and all over Europe. If the respected High Commissioners in these countries can arrange a three-day or a five-day book fair and invite publishers from Bangladesh, we will be able to arrange our own travel expenses and display our books in these countries. The Bangalis living abroad are always craving for books from Bangladesh and this would be a wonderful way to promote our books to them.

In spite of everything, I am amazed at the fact that more and more children love to simply finger through pages of books when they come to our stall!

The other day I could not help taking a picture of a large group of children who were going through books in a nearby bookstall. It was wonderful to watch them practically devouring the books! After all, one can anticipate a bright and a corruption-free future for this country, if these children are given the right books to read at the right age.

Advocate Jahar Lal Saha, owner of Muktodhara Publishing

Bangladesh is the only country in the world whose people sacrificed their lives for the language.


Learning resources

Glossary of terms

Martri basha
Mother tongue (language)
Bhasha Andolon
Language Movement
Jagbar din aaj
It's time to get up (literally, wake up day)
Bhasha shoinik / sainik
Language activist
Prabhat pheri
Mourning procession

May Allah continue to progress our Bangla basha and our People. Ameen.